Monday, 8 November 2010

"I Don't I Feel that I Have to Explain My Art to You, Warren."

Here is an "Artistic" cellphone photo of my eyes
because I'm mysterious and interesting!
When I was a little girl I would travel up to my grandparents’ lake house near North Bay, Ontario with my family. While my dad and brother liked to fish, I preferred to play alone or follow my grandma around while she gardened. One summer I got out some paper and glue and picked flowers and plants from around the property and made people out of them. My mom thought I was some sort of creative genius. I was was just doing what I do.

This week the Transatlantic Support Group is posting about what we wanted to be when we grew up as kids. While some girls wanted to be ballerinas, and others teachers or actresses, I wanted to be an artist.

I remember being in preschool and not really caring about building blocks or counting and learning my ABCs. What I really loved to do was paint. I’d happily put on my smock and paint away (I usually wanted the pink paint, as I was heavy into my pink/Barbie phase of life).

My whole life I have been surrounded by fabulous artists. My uncle went to college for illustration and he always bought me arts and craft supplies from the store he worked at. My aunt is incredibly talented and always made wonderful things. My cousin is a painter, a stained glass artist (she taught me) and a fantastic crafter and knitter. My paternal grandmother knit. While my own parents aren’t so much interested in these things themselves, they always encouraged me to be creative.

In grade 8 I proclaimed that I wanted to be an artist when my teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. What did I know about real life?

By high school I started to feel jaded about it all. I didn’t get along with my art teacher - her and I had different visions. Aside from grade 10, when she was gone on maternity leave, I fought for my art all throughout high school.

I fought when she thought I should put a hat on the person I painted. I fought when she thought my lino block print needed a bit of jazzying up. I fought when she didn’t want to grade my painting early so I could boost my midterm mark for university applications. My grade 10 substitute art teacher, however, thought I was awesome.

It was probably my high school art teacher that scared me away from wanting to pursue art in a serious way. I didn’t want to have to answer to someone. I didn’t want my art to be judged. By my final year of high school I was more into writing and English anyways, so I left art behind and became a dabbler.

I did some creative things in university too. In first year I took a photography class - and it was my only A+ ever in a course. My T.A. was a hippy from the east coast who was into Kurt Cobain conspiracy theories and wore tartan patterned Doc Martins. She gave us our grades on Monopoly money and pretty much let us be as creative as we wanted. While the professor was a hard-ass about lighting and aperture and exposure, my T.A. - Lori - was super cool.

After first year I let my creativity bled into my writing and didn’t really take any more art courses. In third and fourth year I was required to take a design course. I learned page layouts and stuff and that was fun. My art background really paid off here, as I felt I had an edge over a lot of the other students.

Now, well, I have my own Etsy Shop and I still paint sometimes (very rarely). I like taking photos and creating images for my blog and stuff. While I now know that I probably can’t be an artist by trade, I can still be an artist in life. Because when it comes down to it my occupation is only one thing about me. When I’m not at work I’m doing other things. It’s funny that while I said I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, I had no concept of the fact that I already was one.

Tom, did you want to be a firefighter or a ninja when you grew up? Can't wait to read yours on Wednesday!

Here are examples of my work over the years:

Tom, this painting was done using a photo I took in Cambridge, England.

Abstract painting from High School Art.

Mixed Media Self-portrait. I made my own glazed tiles.

This is in my parent's pool table/bar room.

Two summer's ago - My cottage view.

Painting that my teacher thought should have a hat.
"But I worked so hard on the hair!"


  1. The first painting and the last two are amazing. Not that the others aren't good, but I'd happily steal the last two and put them in my living room. Steal because I'm poor and cannot afford life; not because I'm a ginormous mean person who steals art. That wouldn't be cool.

    I wanted to be a lawyer when I was little. Thankfully I became disillusioned with it and opted for an even more abstract career path.

  2. Funny that you say that - those two paintings are actually framed and in my parent's house. The first one is in my parent's bedroom.

    You should give up on your dreams and just become an art thief!

    Also, when I was in first year university so many youngin's had lofty dreams of going to law school. Then they did one too many keg stands and realized that would be too much work and they weren't actually smart enough.

    Not that you aren't smart enough - that isn't what I meant! More so that I seemed like a common "dream" but then by 4th year they just graduated and got a low level office job, or serve coffee with the likes of me.

  3. I hate how it can only take one discouraging person to tear down a childhood dream. I had a film professor in college that didn't understand my work and caused me to re-evaluate whether or not I actually wanted to make movies for a living. Turns out I don't. Haha.
    I guess sometimes we need people to challenge us so we can ask ourselves if what we're doing is even worth the struggle of being misunderstood.

    I'm glad you still do artsy stuff. You've got some creative talent, girl!

    Also, I think a hat would ruin that last painting.

    Anyway, great post, as usual. :D

  4. Yeah, I chose something only slightly less disheartening instead...hahaha.

    And thanks Lauren - it takes one to know one. I wish I was musically talented. The people I'm dogsitting for have a piano - I wish I could play it!

    And I was dead against the hat - I refused and I probably got a lower grade on it because of it. Funny enough my high school art teacher and my university photography professor (not T.A.) had the same first initial and last name!

  5. Wow, you're incredibly talented! I'm glad you still identify as an artist- and that you've made your childhood dreams come true! *highfive*

    I wanted to be a lot of things when I was younger: a detective (hello Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple novels!), a field hockey player (I did play it for years and I was pretty decent, but nowhere near good enough to play professionally), a journalist (I kind of dabble/dabbled in it) I guess I didn't really end up achieving any of my dreams. But I can't say I'm complaining exactly, it would be shite to be a detective- you don't actually get to walk around saying pithy things!

  6. I definitely can't paint the way I used to - I have lost my touch (it's not like riding a bike!)

    It's so funny that when you're a kid anything seems possible. Like you can just grow up and be anything!

  7. It's frightening sometimes how susceptible children and young people can be to adult influences. I mean you were influenced by your creative family to take an interest in and develop a talent for art, which is great. But your teacher's attitude in high school pushed you away. Not totally, obviously. I just find it really sad and want to track her down and give her a piece of my mind. Not everyone would persevere like you have.

    The second-to-last painting is my favourite, and your cottage view is incredible!

  8. Thanks Tom! High School is long over...I'm sure she's crushing other kids dreams now.